November is Hospice and Palliative Care Month

This month, we are highlighting two important services which benefit many of our loved ones and friends: hospice and palliative care.  How do they differ and  how are they similar?

Hospice refers, not to a place, but rather to high-quality care that enables patients and families to focus on living as fully as possible despite a life-limiting illness. It is a philosophy focusing on comfort care instead of aggressive treatment. Palliative care brings this holistic model of care to people earlier in the course of treatment. Both palliative care and hospice care provide comfort. But palliative care can begin at diagnosis, and be provided at the same time as treatment. Hospice care begins after treatment of the disease is stopped and when it is clear that the person is not going to survive the illness. Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support and spiritual care to patients and their families when a cure is not possible. These programs combine the highest level of quality medical care with the emotional and spiritual support that families need most when facing a serious illness or the end of life. One common myth is that hospice is only for the last few days of life. Hospice is appropriate for anyone whose physician has certified that their prognosis is less than six months of life. These patients have a terminal diagnosis and have exhausted aggressive treatments and/or refuse aggressive treatments for that terminal illness. Some indications that it is a good time to consider hospice include making frequent emergency room visits; experiencing uncontrolled pain; or facing the need for more help.

End of life is inevitable for all of us and hospice and palliative care are valuable services for ensuring that our loved ones have needed supports to care for them when the time comes.

Sources: Hospice of Northwest Ohio – National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization – Medline Plus –